It’s a little odd being peripherally involved in college theatre and never having had training in a college theatre program. I feel like I belong but at the same time don’t? I have been performing since I was literally a child, so it’s honestly difficult to set foot in a theatre and not feel some sense of belonging and visceral familiarity. I feel like there is an unspoken force that ties all theatre people together, something that infects our bones, familial and steeped in mutual understanding.
But, I haven’t really done any what you might call formal performing since high school, and when you say you were in your high school theatre program it conjures up certain images and associations that are just so far from what I experienced. Of course I’m not bashing high school theatre programs, they’re necessary, they’re life changing, they feed the spirit. But, the theatre magnet I was in was unlike any other. On our very first day, our director promised us that most of the people sitting in class wouldn’t be there by the time we graduated. She wasn’t plotting our murders or anything…just, lots and lots of people left, which is of course fine, but it speaks to how intense that program was, especially for 14-18 year old kids. I don’t know the level of intensity that comes with a college theatre program, though they did claim to run it like one, I can only speak to Troupe 4276, and damn if they didn’t tear us apart and put us back together again. And sometimes I hated it. Some parts I still do. I know people who loved it, I know people who hated it. For me, no experience is without it’s rough edges, but I don’t regret any of it. And I know the past looks better from the future, but honestly who can say everything about their high school experience was sunshine and rainbows?
One thing you learn from the theatre is how to think fast and figure things out when you’re completely unprepared and/or have no idea what you’re doing, no time to plan, and no one to hold your hand and guide you. Like, I used to run props crews, but I haven’t in years, and honestly I had a few bad experiences with it, but when it comes to mind my immediate thought is always “Yeah, I could run a props crew right now starting tomorrow with three crew members, zero budget, and a chicken. Not like it would be the first time I’ve worked with a chicken. Somebody get me a glue gun and let’s have some fun.” I’ve found that ability to be incredibly valuable, cause life is full of chickens. …Perhaps I should have chosen a better metaphor. (But for the record I really have worked with a chicken.) Anyway, that magnet is a big part of what made me who I am. That’s part of why it’s impossible for me to say I’m not an actor anymore. I don’t think that’s a title you can pick up and put down. The theatre is for life. It’s a beautiful infection that you can never shake. So it’s odd, especially living with a theatre major and hearing about what she’s learning, to feel on the outside of that.
I mentioned my theatre major roommate, also my friend, who shall from here out be known as Brittny. Cause…cause that’s her name. So Brittny is in a directing class and they were having auditions for their student directed scenes, aka midterms. I was actually there when Brittny chose what play she was going to use, cause, you know, we live in the same apartment. So I had the advantage of being familiar with the play. I also had the disadvantage of being familiar with the play, knowing how amazing it is, and really, really wanting that damn part. So after a lot of stress, anxiety, and auditioning that I’m going to casually skate past, I got the part. People, I was (am) so ridiculously excited. For one thing I was excited to not have to basically talk to Brittny in code anymore, cause during the casting process I was like “Aghhh I can’t ask you anything” and she was like “Aghhh I can’t tell you anything.” It was a very “Agghhhh” situation. I knew I missed acting before this, but it didn’t really hit me until I realized how much I wanted the part. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that particular brand of stress and I miss it.
If anyone knows the play “The Shape of Things” (it was also a movie which I haven’t watched and probably won’t) then I’m playing Evelyn and you know what an intense role that is. If you haven’t than whatever, but she’s an incredibly complicated, fascinating character. I’m not going to tell you her story her, so just…just trust me, or go read the play. Do it. It’s amazing. Not having theatre in my life has left something missing from my soul. I’m relieved to have found my way in to acting again, at least until October, but where do I go after that? Who’s to say? Hopefully, great places.